Please welcome (late, my fault, I am SO sorry, Sarah!) Sarah Madison with a bit about writing as a job and an excerpt!
Don’t Give Up Your Day Job…
A lot of people ask me if I intend to give up my ‘day job’ in order to write full time. I confess, it’s a lovely fantasy at times. I’ve spend the last couple of decades working over sixty hours a week in a very demanding profession, one that does not respect holidays, and considers nine vacation days a year (not to be taken consecutively) a boon. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t emotionally and physically exhausting.
But I’ve come to a gradual realization and acceptance about the kinds of stories I write. See, I am very much aware of what it’s like to have a crappy day. To come home needing to forget something that happened at work. To need some simple escapism, to take you out of the debilitating illness, or the chronic pain, or the never-ending responsibility of being a caretaker. So while I like to make my characters suffer a bit, you’re not likely to get a long angsty trial-ridden fic from me. Because that’s my real life. It’s why I rarely watch medical dramas. It’s too much like being at work.
When I first began publishing my stories, there was a huge thrill in just seeing the published work available for sale. There still is. I still get excited and nervous about a new release, like the one I have coming up Oct 3, Walk a Mile, the sequel to Unspeakable Words. Back then, the excitement of the new release was enough for me. I was published! I was a ‘real’ author! I’ve since learned that anyone who writes with passion and dedication is a real author, and that being published isn’t necessarily an indication of quality, but hey, back then I was very naïve.
Back then I wrote story after story that was accepted for publication. Slowly it dawned on me that I might actually be able to make a little money from writing. No, more than a little—the writing began paying for the mortgage, and I began to daydream about quitting the day job and writing full-time.
Then I ended up losing a good bit of my regular income when one of my jobs evaporated when the clinic was sold to a corporation who decided to restructure. Suddenly, I had a choice: I could search around for another job to pick up the slack, or I could try to make writing work for me as a second job.
Well, let me tell you, it’s possible, but it is work. Work like you’ve never dreamed of before. Writing went from being the thing I did to escape from the dreariness of life to being another job that I loved but demanded much from me. It wasn’t a smooth transition. I allowed the occasional lukewarm review derail me. It took me months of working less at the day job to realize the toll it had taken on my creativity. I focused too much on sales, biting my nails over the perceived success or failure of the last story instead of hunkering down and concentrating on the next one. I wasted a lot of time spinning mywheels and lost much of the momentum I’d gained when I’d released story after story.
So here’s what I’ve learned from all that. Yes, it is possible for writing to help pay the bills, but it’s a long term investment—kind of like building a 401K toward retirement. While everyone points to the Amanda Hockings and E.L. James of the writing world, you have to realize that kind of success is much like winning the lottery. It can happen, but counting on it to happen, depending on it to happen, is not only silly but a recipe for heartbreak. Because placing that kind of pressure on your young writing career is a bit like asking a Clydesdale colt to pull the Budweiser wagon single-handedly. It’s an unfair burden that will break its spirit. Don’t do that. Have a fallback plan. Let your colt grow up strong before you harness him like that.
The following is an excerpt from Sarah’s book entitled Unspeakable Words published by Dreamspinner Press!
Special Agent John Flynn is everything that Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn…and the two men must learn to work together before a killer strikes again.
He sensed Flynn’s presence behind him before he heard him speak.
“Something smells good in here.”
Jerry turned to say something offhand but then completely lost track of what he’d intended to say. Flynn was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, wearing a towel slung low around his hips so that his hipbones showed. The hair on his chest was not too much, just right in fact, tapering down his long torso until it disappeared beneath the towel. He was drying out one ear with another towel, his hair standing up in startled spikes. On the chain around his neck, he wore a simple, tiny silver cross, the kind that a preteen girl might wear. His left shoulder bore the ugly, puckered mark of a bullet wound, the shiny scarring of skin suggesting that the wound wasn’t all that old. Jerry knew from his record that Flynn had been shot in the line of duty about six months ago, but the record didn’t say much more than that.
Flynn had shaved, but his jaw still held the suggestion of a beard. It was probably as close as he ever got to being smooth-cheeked. A hint of soap and the smell of clean, damp skin and aftershave wafted in Jerry’s direction before being lost to the smell of coffee and bacon. The combination of odors struck Jerry viscerally with a little bolt of lust that surprised him.
“Breakfast will be ready in a minute,” Jerry said tersely, turning away to get a second mug down from the cabinet.
“You didn’t have to go to all this trouble,” Flynn said, slinging the towel in his hand around his neck.
Jerry shot him a look. He wondered what kind of game Flynn was playing here. He obviously was aware that Jerry had checked him out; it was evident in the little smile that played around his lips. Was this his way of saying he was so secure in his sexuality that it didn’t bother him? Jerry suspected that was the case.
“Oh. Right. Never mind. This is how you always start the day. What’s in the oven?” Flynn looked amused, something subtle in his eyes that suggested it was at Jerry’s expense. He also looked completely comfortable there in his stupid towel with his hairy legs and his bare feet.
“Frittatas,” Jerry said crisply. He blamed the heat of the oven for the flushing of his face.
“That’s some egg thingy, right?”
Jerry found his gaze drawn to a single bead of water dripping from one of Flynn’s sideburns, making its way in a crooked line over his collarbone. He swallowed before speaking. “Philistine. Yes, some egg thingy. Best eaten hot. You’d better get dressed.” He cleared his throat.
Flynn gave him a little half smile and left the room. Jerry watched the way the damp, soft terrycloth of the towel clung to his ass as he walked away. He took a sip of coffee and made a face as he realized he’ d forgotten to add cream. Yep. It was going to be a long day.
Sarah Madison is a veterinarian with a big dog, an even bigger horse, too many cats, and a very patient boyfriend. She is a terrible cook, and concedes that her life would be easier if Purina made People Chow. She writes because it is cheaper than therapy.
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